My name is Eva Drager and I have a coaching and massage practice in Hilversum. The programs that I offer find their origin in my own search for wisdom and tools that could help me become a happy, liberated and conscious human being. This journey started almost thirty years ago when, as a young adult, I went through a depression in which I realized that I could only be happy if I’d find a way to change and develop myself from within. At that time, I wasn’t sure how to start that process, but the seed for the need for self-develpment had been sowed.
Seven years later, in 1998, I made my first big step towards who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life. During a long period of travelling in Thailand I found a Buddhist monastary where I could live amongst the monks and nuns and practice meditation for at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a period of six weeks.
If you just observe your thoughts and feelings for such an extended period, you gain a lot of insight in yourseld and the workings of your mind! My personal breakthrough came when I started to see and understand and experience what happened in my head when I was pulled down into depression. I realized how I enabled my depressions by identifying myself with my heavy and difficult feelings. During my long hours in meditation I discovered that in reality, those thoughts and feelings were seperate from me, the person observing them. I realized the thoughts and feelings were like clouds in the sky and that my depression started when I engaged with those clouds, when I pulled them towards me and thought they were mine. In my meditation, I experienced that when I just observed those clouds of thoughts and feelings, when I just sat with them, acknowledged their existence but when I didn’t connect them with myself, my problems, my life, they would just pass by. Sometimes after a few seconds, sometimes after a few minutes and sometimes it took as long as a day. But the truth was: they always passed if I didn’t cling to them.
This insight and experience were big! I had found the key to deal differently with my depressions. It didn’t mean that I no longer experienced depressed thoughts or feeling, they still came up. But when they did, I just watched them from a distance and waited til they’d passed.
One year later, when I was back in Amsterdam were I’d picked up my anthropology studies, I wrote my master thesis on how Buddhist concepts and meditation canhelp people deal with their depressions. This was my first step to do something professionally with the insights I’d gained during my time in the monastary.
A few years later I moved to Ethiopie with my husband (who worked with medicines sans frontiers) and daughter. Once I’d felt more or less settled I started looking for a group to meditate with. To find out soon enough that nothing like that existed in Addis Abeba.
A little while later, during a trip through the country with a friend, we ended up in a beautiful lodge in the south of Ethiopia that immediately inspired me and where I re-established the desire to share my experiences in the monastary with others.
Three months later I came back with 10 women for a retreat. I shared what I knew about Buddhism, introduced the group to Vipassana (insight) meditation and offered questions for reflection.
I felt so happy while preparing for and during the retreat! It was the first time since I’d started my search for happiness and emotional freedom that I felt that what I was doing made sense: sharing the insights that had made such a big impact in my life with others.
After this retreat I received more and more requests to organize meditation evenings or classes in Addis. I definitely wanted to but wasn’t sure in what shape or form to put it. After some thinking and searching I found the 8-week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) training from Jon Kabat Zinn. It was a joy to go through this training and realize that everything I’d experienced and learned in the monastary was contained in this beautiful training format that offered me the perfect structure I’d been looking for to continue on this path of teaching meditation.
This was the next step in professionalizing my personal search and insights. I started organizing 8-week mindfulness trainings in Addis! These trainings became very popular right from the start and in the next few years in Ethiopia I was grateful to teach these precious lessons to more than 300 people.
Meanwhile, I still felt the need to continue to work on myself and reading books in the self-help area was one of my big passions. What frustrated me though, was that I felt exhilerated about all the ideas and insights I gain while reading those books but once I’d finished reading, I wasn’t sure how to apply what I read in my daily life.
This changed when I came accross the book ‘The Passion Test’ that offered a method that immediately got me going. The Passion test found its foundation in research that showed that successful, happy people had in common that they were all clear about the five things that were of highest significance in their lives and that they’d focused their energy and attantion on exactly those things. The book showed how I’d find out what my top 5 passions were and how I could start living those passions fully. It was all very simple but yet profound in the clarity and direction it gave me. The passion test method was a true revalation for me and I experienced how my life started moving once I started to apply the principles.
I was so excited about the method and I really wanted to share it with other people. So my next step was to take the Passion test facilitator training with Janet Attwood (The author of the book and founder of the method).
I was really excited (and a bit nervous) about this request because it forced me to bring my own search, insights and experiences in this area to yet a new level.
The following months I put my heart and soul in reading, researching and putting together everything I’d learned into the best possible self- and stressmanagement training I could possibly make! And when I was conducting this trainig for the first time in September 2010, I couldn’t have been happier!
After that first time, I regularly gave the training for other organizations and embassies and also to private groups and individuals.
In December 2012 we moved to Nairobi in Kenya and I continued my work with mindfulness and passions there as well. I noticed more and more how connected and interdependent those two programs actually were: to discover the five things that are most significant to have a happy life and to focus your attention and energy on those things (The Passion test), you first need to find out what it is that gives you energy, what you love doing, what your talents are, what kind of person you want to be and how you’d like to see all of that back in your day to day life. For that you’ll need mindfulness :-).
To develop mindfulness you need a focus that will help you to be present and direct your attention. During meditation practice you usually use your breathing as an anchor. In your daily life it is helpful to have some specific and practical anchors to keep you on track and for that, you need the passion test!
In 2014 I participated in an ‘online course creation’ training to learn everything about designing online trainings. This resulted in the online applied mindfulness training: craft your life in 2015.
I strongly belief that mindfulness skills and knowing who you want to be and where you’d like to focus your attention need to be learned and developed in conjunction. So this has become the focus point of my own life and my professional specialization in applied mindfulness!
Since July 2019 I’ve moved to the Netherlands with my family and in March 2020 I’ve opened my practice at the Hoge Naarderweg 7H in Hilversum where I hope to continue the work I’ve started in Africa!